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Search for snowmachiner missing near Kotzebue ends in tragedy.

Arctic Sea Ice near Kotzebue-Wesley Early.png
Sea ice near Kotzebue. Photo by Wesley Early.

The search for the second snowmachiner, who set out from Kotzebue on a trip to Noorvik more than a week ago, is over.

Alaska State Troopers say Thomas Brown did not survive. Searchers found his body about ten-and-a-half miles from Kotzebue, near Cape Blossom this afternoon.

Alaska State Troopers say Brown and another 18-year-old, his cousin Josiah Ballot, had messaged friends that they were traveling to Noorvik on Monday, Jan. 16.

Ballot was found last Friday about 28 miles south of Kotzebue and about eight miles from his snowmachine. He was hunkered down next to a ridge of sea ice, which offered some protection from the wind, but not enough to escape severe frostbite. Ballot was medivaced to Anchorage for treatment.

Over the last nine days, searchers have combed the coastline and trails, from both the air and on the ground, looking for signs of the two teens. Walter Sampson, a longtime member of the Northwest Arctic Borough Search and Rescue team, said crews endured minus 50 windchills. Some searchers, he said, returned home with frostbite on their faces and problems with their hands.

A North Slope Borough helicopter assisted in today’s search.

Rhonda McBride has a long history of working in both television and radio in Alaska, going back to 1988, when she was news director at KYUK, the public radio and TV stations in Bethel, which broadcast in both the English and Yup’ik languages.